Speirs Wharf centre stage in theatre's expansion plan

THE National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) has revealed the full extent of its bid to create an expanded Glasgow HQ, after submitting a planning application to move to a new facility at Speirs Wharf.

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National Theatre of Scotland executive producer Neil Murray stands by the Forth and Clyde canal at Speirs Wharf. NTS has submitted a planning application to move to new premises by the canal next year. Picture: Kirsty Anderson
National Theatre of Scotland executive producer Neil Murray stands by the Forth and Clyde canal at Speirs Wharf. NTS has submitted a planning application to move to new premises by the canal next year. Picture: Kirsty Anderson

From its humble beginnings in a small office in Hope Street less than 10 years ago, the award-winning theatre company wants to move onwards and upwards.

The proposed £6 million new home of NTS would be in a disused canal-side industrial unit. It will mean that for the first time the theatre will have a single base, offering studio and rehearsal space as well as a place for writers, designers and administrative staff to work.

The plan has been welcomed by Creative Scotland.

A spokesman said: "Creative Scotland welcomes the National Theatre of Scotland's development plans."

"As Scotland's pre-eminent theatre company, anything that helps them go from strength to strength is a positive thing."

If the move to double the space used by NTS goes ahead it will offer many things, most importantly a 'creation centre', according to NTS executive producer Neil Murray.

"The company has grown, as has the amount of work. What we've always aspired to is have is what we call a creation centre, where we make our own work and invite partners in to make their work in the space," says Neil.

The Speirs Wharf site isn't far from NTS's current base, at Civic House. It will also provide an opportunity for the theatre company to engage with the community.

Neil added: "One of the aims is to have a room dedicated to working with community groups.

"The plan is to have four rehearsal rooms of different sizes - including one very large room to do our biggest shows. We always use the example of Black Watch, where we have to go and rent a massive space, we're either at Film City in Govan or Scottish Opera, so we need a room big enough to do that kind of show.

"We would have two other rehearsal rooms and a community room. Although there won't be a public face to the building the doors will be open for people to come in and use the building."

Some of the funds to buy and refurbish the building have already been raised from central Government and the local authority, with the hope that NTS will be in its new home by 2016.

NTS was established in 2005 and has performed to audiences across the globe. Over the past four years, the NTS has created more than 70 productions.

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: "I can confirm we have received a planning application from the National Theatre of Scotland. It will be considered in due course."

l In an article in some editions of last night's Evening Times, we said planning permission had been granted. It should have read 'has been sought'.

angela.mcmanus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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